cover image OLD FRIEND FROM FAR AWAY: How to Write Memoir


Natalie Goldberg, , read by the author. . Sounds True, $24.95 (, two CDs, 2.5 hrs., $24.95 ISBN p) ISBN 978-1-56455-959-3

Anyone who's aspired to write a memoir—secretly or otherwise—will find encouragement and inspiration in this superbly recorded, succinct recording by writing teacher Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones). Describing writing as "the chance to live your life twice," and memoir as a way of "letting go so when death comes you can meet it," Goldberg eases the listener into her audio writing workshop with a relaxed, improvisational tone, befitting her strong sense of humor. Simple yet creative exercises designed to get listeners started and help them discover their own "inner structure" and passions include learning exact names of things to eliminate strings of adjectives, list-making, "sketching" (a term coined by Kerouac), responding to one of Goldberg's thought-provoking questions and "sprinting" (doing timed half-page writings on one word). Punctuated with the author's own laughter and interjections of "Isn't that great?," readings of excerpts from Goldberg's favorite poets, authors and students illustrate various topics, which are separated by beautiful acoustic music. Applying lessons gained from her 25-year study of Zen Buddhism, Goldberg urges writers to continue under all circumstances. (June)